Nov 04

“Spektrel” Spectacular

Photo: Caitlin O'Brien

Photo: Caitlin O’Brien

Presented by The Luminarium Dance Company
Choreographed by Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman

OCTOBER 27 -31, 2015 @ 8PM
Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second St, Cambridge MA
Luminarium on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Spektrel is four stories sewn together, a series of modern dances united by themes of self-realization and independence. More broadly, it’s about millennials that have figured out what they want. Each modern dance piece slides into place beautifully, from the playful re connect to the harrowing Phoenixial Cycle. The Luminarium Dance Company knows what it’s about and directors Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman put together a show that shines. Continue reading

Oct 08

Goddess Dumps “Kansas City Choir Boy”: A Love Story

Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

Photo: Evgenia Eliseev


Presented by A.R.T.
Music and Lyrics by Todd Almond
Directed by Kevin Newbury
Choreography by Sam Pinkleton
Musical Direction by David Bloom

October 1 – 10, 2015
Club Oberon
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Courtney Love stars as Athena, the idealized, former girlfriend of the titular Kansas City Choir Boy (Todd Almond). The show begins when he sees a news story on TV that she’s been found dead in a New York City park.This touches off either a series of memories or a fantasy in which the two spend the show singing love songs to each other. Continue reading

Sep 28

For Better or Worse, “The Thing on the Doorstep” is a Shambling Beast

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Presented by Salem Theatre Company
Adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story
Directed & Adapted by Isaiah Plovnick

September 17 – October 4, 2015
Salem Theatre
90 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA, 01970
Salem Theatre on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Salem, MA) Devoted H.P. Lovecraft fans should prepare themselves for a sojourn to Salem before the end of this week. The Thing on the Doorstep has been lovingly adapted to stage, giving voice to one of the most foundational science fiction writers of the early twentieth century. What’s synthesized from the material is a creeping, gothic narrative, one that fights to stay true to the spirit of the original and hew closely to the author’s voice. The move from page to stage is a fraught one, though, and Lovecraft’s style (retro by the standards of the years he wrote in with a great deal of colonialist issues throughout) is ultimately clunky. Continue reading

Sep 10

“Radium Girls” Radiates Pain and Triumph

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by D. W. Gregory
Directed by Lindsay Eagle

September 4th – 19th, 2015
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Charlestown, MA) There is a poem by Julianna Baggott, “Marie Curie Gives Advice to her Daughter Irene Before her Wedding.” This is how it ends:
“My hope, daughter, is that
what you love doesn’t come to kill you,
eye by eye, ear by ear, bone by radiant bone.”

The friend with whom I went to see “Radium Girls” mentioned it to me after the show was over. It’s easy to see why. This is a play about not just losing one’s life to radium, but losing everything. Grace Fryer (the magnificent Erin Eva Butcher) loses both her fear and trust while Arthur Roeder (Bridgette Hayes) loses faith in the United States Radium factory and in himself. What you love–what you trust to take care of you, what you trust to be there for you–might indeed ultimately kill you. Continue reading

Aug 28

Genre-Flexible “Winter’s Tale” Becomes a Summer Fantasia in Nathan Tufts Park

Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

August 14-30, 2015
Nathan Tufts Park (aka Powderhouse Park) in Somerville, MA
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville, MA) Maiden Phoenix gamely takes on one of the strangest of Shakespeare’s late period work. In the style of King Lear, Leontes (Juliet Bowler) comes to distrust his loved ones to the horror of his court. His queen, Hermione (Cassandra Meyer), is accused of adultery, their son, Mamillius (a hilariously bro-y Caroline Rose Markham), is separated from his mother, and a baby is abandoned on a hillside to be devoured by the wild. Then, suddenly, when a man “exits” the stage pursued by bears, the story transforms. The Winter’s Tale leaves aside its devastating tragedy and the king’s “too hot, too hot” anger in favor of a pastoral comedy. From this point on, the story flows together like a series of dreams. This peculiar shift suits not only more optimistic fare but the theatre group’s choice of setting, a green, fairy tale-like staging in Nathan Tufts Park. Continue reading

Apr 16

“The Big One” Has Big Heart But Feels Under-Done

11107735_10206307386668624_3810527196770342390_nPresented by Lesley University
Written by Liv Cummins, Sandy McKnight
Directed by Liv Cummins
Music direction by Elena Blyskal

April 9-12, 2015
Lesley University
Marran Theater
34 Mellen Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Big One on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Lesley University’s pop/rock musical is, at best, is benign and rather sweet. A number of struggling Los Angeles songwriters gather in the basement of a dilapidated building at the guidance of Paul (Ryan Bevard) to workshop their music. The goal of each workshop participant is to hit it big with their work, to be featured in a commercial, movie, or by a well-known artist. Meanwhile, California itself prepares for a “big hit” from the end result of a series of earthquakes. There’s a lot of charm to its plot and character arcs, but Liv Cummins and Sandy McKnight’s show doesn’t quite come together. Continue reading

Apr 13

Daniil Kharms Continues to Charm in imaginary beasts’ Betty Bam!

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
Directed by Matthew Woods, Joey C. Pelletier, and Michael Underhill
Written by Daniil Kharms
Translation by Zoya Derman
Adapted by The Ensemble

April 10 – May 2, 2015
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) The innovative and evocative imaginary beasts continue with their year-long exploration of Stalinist-era author, Daniil Kharms, with Betty Bam! Their last attack on his material, KNOCK!, was a condensed affair, a multi-character and multi-story primer on Kharms’ bleak humor and deeply unsettling monologues. The actors took pratfalls and grafted the absurdist theater onto a sort of vaudeville act. In Betty Bam!, the visual nods remain in the early-twentieth century, but the aesthetic switches to black and white film, page-boy cuts, and a set styled into a cartoon explosion. The five actresses who depict Betty Bam’s fractured identity (Beth Pearson, Amy Meyer, Molly Kimmerling, Sarah Gazdowicz, and Kiki Samko) are each a live action Betty Boop caught in an explosion of a different sort, one that takes the guise of an interruption into their life: the police, Ivan (Cameron Cronin) and Pytor (William Schuller). As with KNOCK!, the police are an oppressive force, one here to take Betty to an unknown fate. The action of taking her away makes up the entirety of the plot. Continue reading

Feb 26

Icy Distance in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s GREENLAND

Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Co.
By Nicholas Billon
Directed by Meg Taintor

Feb. 20 – March 15, 2015
189 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) One of the more terrifying aspects of climate change is its irreversibleness.  Once the environment has altered, it’s impossible to get the world back to where it was.  In Nicolas Billon’s 60-minute Greenland, we don’t only contemplate the fragility of the planet but the family unit.  The irreversible change that befalls Tanya (Charlotte Kinder), her uncle Jonathan (Dale J. Young), and her aunt Judith (Christine Power) is smaller than global warming but, in the show, just as brutal. Continue reading

Feb 06

“The Second Girl” Keeps to Familiar Territory

Photo credit: Hunting Theatre Co

Photo credit: Hunting Theatre Co

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co.
Written by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone
Directed by Campbell Scott

Jan. 16 – Feb. 21, 2015
South End / Calderwood
Pavilion at the BCA
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

The class war still rages on.  People from countries with fewer opportunities than ours wash up on the shores of America willing to work sixteen-hour days at thankless jobs.  In “The Second Girl,” the audience is transported to the influx of Irish immigration in the earlier twentieth century.  Specifically, we watch a full day in the life of Bridget O’Sullivan (Kathleen McElfresh) and aspiring actress Cathleen O’Leary (MacKenzie Meehan) in August 1912.  Both work as maids for the summer home of wealthy employers.  The carping and melodrama of our heroines’ everyday world is mined for a play that seems a little too grounded in the immigration stories that came before. Continue reading

Dec 08

“Distant Neighbors” and Close Encounters

Sheldon Brown (Adams) & Louise Hamill (Talia). Photo by E. Milanovich Photography

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
Written by Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Liz Fenstermaker

December 5 – 13, 2014
Boston Playwrights Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Fresh Ink Theatre’s Distant Neighbors hits at the heart of what the best science fiction is about: people reacting to technological advancement.  If you read (or watch the film adaption of) Jurassic Park, you’re not just consuming entertainment to see how people create dinosaurs, but how people react to creating dinosaurs.  Similarly, the characters of Distant Neighbors react to a change in an intimate environment.  Here, however, the source of upheaval is the wing of an apparent spacecraft that comes crashing down into the backyards of Adams (Sheldon Brown), Talia (Louise Hamill), and Griffin (Daniel Boudreau), three neighbors who know nothing about each other.  It’s a wonderful starting point for a story about intimacy and paranoia, but I’m not sure it pans out well.

Continue reading